ISSUE: WON the mandamus suit of the respondent (Singson) involving a money claim against the government, predicated on a contract is valid
FACTS: "In January 1967, the Office of the District Engineer requisitioned various items of spare parts for the repair of a D-8 bulldozer which was signed by the District Engineer Fernandez, and the Requisitioning Officer (civil engineer), Manuel S. Lepatan. ... It was approved by the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, Antonio V. Raquiza. It is noted in the approval of the said requisition that "This is an exception to the telegram dated Feb. 21, 1967 of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications." ... So, a canvass or public bidding was conducted on May 5, 1967. The committee on award accepted the bid of the Singkier Motor Service for the sum of P43,530.00. ... Subsequently, it was approved by the Secretary of Public Works and Communications; and on May 16,1967 the Secretary sent a letter-order to the Singkier Motor Service, Mandaue, Cebu requesting it to immediately deliver the items listed therein for the lot price of P43,530.00. ...It would appear that a purchase order signed by the District Engineer, the Requisitioning Officer and the Procurement Officer, was addressed to the Singkier Motor Service. ... In due course the Voucher No. 07806 reached the hands of Highway Auditor Sayson for pre-audit. He then made inquiries about the reasonableness of the price. ... Thus, after finding from the indorsements of the Division Engineer and the Commissioner of Public Highways that the prices of the various spare parts are just and reasonable and that the requisition was also approved by no less than the Secretary of Public Works and Communications with the verification of V.M. Secarroa representative of the Bureau of Supply Coordination, Manila, he approved it for payment in the sum of P34,824.00, with the retention of 20% equivalent to P8,706.00 to submit the voucher with the supporting papers to the Supervising Auditor, which he did. ... The voucher was paid on June 9, 1967 in the amount of P34,824.00 to Singson. On June 10,1967, Highway Auditor Sayson received a telegram from Supervising Auditor Fornier quoting a telegraphic message of the General Auditing Office which states: "In view of excessive prices charge for purchase of spare parts and equipment shown by vouchers already submitted this Office direct all highway auditors refer General Office payment similar nature for appropriate action." ... In the interim it would appear that when the voucher and the supporting papers reached the GAO, a canvass was made of the spare parts among the suppliers in Manila, particularly, the USI(Phil.), which is the exclusive dealer of the spare parts of the caterpillar tractors in the Philippines. Said firm thus submitted its quotations at P2,529.64 only which is P40,000.00 less than the price of the Singkier. ... In view of the overpricing the GAO took up the matter with the Secretary of Public Works in a third indorsement of July 18, 1967. ... The Secretary then circularized a telegram holding the district engineer responsible for overpricing." What is more, charges for malversation were filed against the district engineer and the civil engineer involved. It was the failure of the Highways Auditor, one of the petitioners before us, that led to the filing of the mandamus suit below, with now respondent Singson as sole proprietor of Singkier Motor Service, being adjudged as entitled to collect the balance of P8,706.00, the contract in question having been upheld. Hence this appeal by certiorari
RATIO DECIDENDI: the claim is void for the cause or consideration is contrary to law, morals or public policy, mandamus is not the remedy to enforce the collection of such claim against the State but an ordinary action for specific performance. the suit disguised as one for mandamus to compel the Auditors to approve the vouchers for payment, is a suit against the State, which cannot prosper or be entertained by the Court except with the consent of the State. In other words, the respondent should have filed his claim with the General Auditing Office, under the provisions of Com. Act 327 which prescribe the conditions under which money claim against the government may be filed: "In all cases involving the settlement of accounts or claims, other than those of accountable officers, the Auditor General shall act and decide the same within sixty days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, after their presentation. If said accounts or claims need reference to other persons, office or offices, or to a party interested, the period aforesaid shall be counted from the time the last comment necessary to a proper decision is received by him." Thereafter, the procedure for appeal is indicated: "The party aggrieved by the final decision of the Auditor General in the settlement of an account or claim may, within thirty days from receipt of the decision, take an appeal in writing: (a) To the President of the United States, pending the final and complete withdrawal of her sovereignty over the Philippines, or (b) To the President of the Philippines, or (c) To the Supreme Court of the Philippines if the appellant is a private person or entity. "Once consent is secured, an action may be filed. There is nothing to prevent the State, however, in such statutory grant, to require that certain administrative proceedings be had and be exhausted. Also, the proper forum in the judicial hierarchy can be specified if thereafter an appeal would be taken by the party aggrieved. Here, there was no ruling of the Auditor General. Even had there been such, the court to which the matter should have been elevated is this Tribunal; the lower court could not legally act on the matter.